Opera singing isn’t for everyone, it takes a lot of work and dedication to have any success in the industry. Most singers fail at singing opera not because they lack talent but because there are several requirements that you need to fulfill if you wish to become an opera singer.
In the United States, numerous aspiring opera singers often pursue a traditional path towards their career. This involves obtaining a music degree from a college or conservatory, pursuing graduate studies, participating in selective young artist programs, and dedicating years to auditioning and competing. Over time, they aim to secure regular opportunities to perform, initially taking on smaller roles before progressing to more substantial engagements in the opera world.
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There are a lot of talented singers in the world, some make it professionally while others do not. As a singer, you have a lot of options on how to become a professional singer, and in most cases, you can even accomplish this without any kind of degree. Although some singing styles have a fairly high barrier of entry, meaning that you will have to have a degree and in some cases even a master’s degree.
The problem with opera singing is that you do not have a lot of options if you want to become a professional opera singer. Usually, you have to study a lot to become a professional opera singer and in most cases, you also have to be an apprentice at an opera house. If you are determined to make it as a professional singer, then my recommendation is to read my recent article How long does it take to become a professional singer? ( The Honest Truth ).
If you think that singing is competitive then you will be amazed at how competitive opera singing can be. Opera singing is not like other sub-genres of the music industry, you can not rely on your looks or your money to be a professional opera singer. If you want to be an opera singer then you will have to prove to the Opera Houses that you are indeed determined and a talented opera singer, and even if you are good there is no guarantee you will become a professional opera singer.
One of the major disadvantages of being an opera singer of which nobody is talking is that there are way too many people coming out from the universities being specialized in opera, and the actual opera industry can not hire them as opera houses are few and far between. Usually, people who get hired by an opera house tend to stay at that job for the majority of their lives, due to a lack of options, some might even leave the industry after a few short years.
It is extremely important that you think about these things, there is simply no point in getting a student loan to go into an industry in which you do not see yourself for the rest of your life. Far too many opera singers quit right before they become professionals as the bar to entry is high and the competition is ever-increasing.
How To Become A Professional Opera Singer?
Becoming a professional opera singer requires a combination of talent, dedication, and focused training. Start by developing a solid foundation in vocal technique and musicality through formal vocal lessons with a qualified voice teacher. This will help you improve your vocal range, breath control, projection, and overall vocal quality. It’s important to study classical repertoire and immerse yourself in the world of opera by attending performances, listening to recordings, and learning from established opera singers. Participating in vocal competitions, summer programs, and workshops can provide valuable performance opportunities and networking connections.
Pursue formal education in music or vocal performance through reputable music schools or conservatories. As you progress, consider seeking guidance from experienced coaches and mentors who can offer specialized training in opera repertoire, stage presence, and language diction. Building a versatile repertoire, gaining performance experience through auditions and engagements, and maintaining vocal health through regular exercise, proper vocal care, and healthy lifestyle habits are also key. Networking and establishing relationships with opera companies, agents, and casting directors can open doors to professional opportunities.
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Study At A Conservatory
Opera singing is unlike any other type of singing, you will need to study and have at least some kind of degree in the field of music. Usually, people who study at a conservatory have a much higher chance of making it as professional opera singers. Here you will gain valuable experience as the conservatories often make live shows and events which are open to the public. Although most students performing at these public events are the best of the best from the conservatory.
Get A Bachelor’s Degree In Music
One of the barriers to entry for opera singing is the Bachelor’s Degree in Music, If you want to become a professional singer you will need a bachelor’s degree without it almost no opera house will hire you. There are some exceptional cases where people have been hired by opera houses to sing professionally without a bachelor’s degree, the problem is that they can not hire them as an actual opera singers, and usually, people without this degree will have a lot lower salary than the others that do.
Get A Master Of Music Degree
You will need all the help you can get if you want to become a professional opera singer. While most people only get a bachelor’s degree the ones who do also get an advanced degree will have priority in being hired at an opera house. Provided that you have the voice to back it up as some people can get these degrees from less reputable universities where there is not a lot of actual studying.
If you decide that you want to get an advanced degree then you must get it from some prestigious conservatory and not from some online course as some people have tried.
Become An Apprentice At An Opera House
My personal recommendation is if you want to become a full-time opera singer then you have to become an apprentice at an opera house. Most opera houses do have apprenticeship programs where people who graduated and the ones that are still studying can join. These apprentice programs are generally speaking seasonal from September to May, although some opera houses do keep their apprentices longer than one season.
While being an apprentice you will get extremely valuable training, most professional opera singers claim that they learn a lot more as an apprentice than at the conservatory. You will get life experience of what it means to be a professional opera singer, and you probably find a lot of talented people from which you can learn.
Train Your Voice To Become A Professional Opera Singer
If you want to become a professional opera singer then you will have to train your voice. Depending on your voice type will determine how easy or how hard it will be to make it as a professional opera singer. The problem with opera singing is that you will have to sing live in front of an audience, while this doesn’t sound bad for most singers, but for singers who are naturally introverted, this can be terrifying.
My personal recommendation is to get a vocal coach, at least for a few sessions. Just keep in mind that you will have to go to a vocal coach who is coaching opera singers, as most vocal coaches do not have enough experience in opera singing. Once you are at your first session explain to the vocal coach that you want to be an opera singer and ask him to coach you on what areas of your voice you should work on.
Learn To Sing High Notes
If you are serious about being an opera singer then you have to learn how to sing high notes, and you have to be able to hold these high notes as clearly and for as long time as possible. Having a powerful voice will also help as most of the time opera singers do not use any kind of microphone while singing in front of an audience. If you have ever been to an opera performance then you probably noticed that most singers do have the ability to sing high notes, and some of them go so high that it might even seem impossible to reach those high notes.
If you are a beginner singer then you probably have a difficult time singing high notes, and you will need all the help that you can. My personal recommendation is to read through my article as it will give you a small boost while you are singing high notes What to drink before singing high notes? ( Top 6 Drinks ).
Develop A Powerful Voice
As I have mentioned above most opera singers do not use microphones while they are performing, although there are some opera houses that do allow them in some exceptional cases. Your voice as an opera singer has to be powerful enough to be heard by the entire audience, even the ones who are sitting in the back. I have been to quite a few opera performances and you do not want to know how infuriating it is when you do not hear one of the opera singers clearly as they lack power in their voice.
There are some singers who are born with a naturally powerful voice, however, most singers lack this power in their voice. You as a singer need to understand that there is a big difference between a generally powerful singing voice and a powerful opera voice. Even if you know that you have a powerful singing voice that might not even be good enough if you want to be a professional singer.
If you want to know how powerful your voice is then my recommendation is to turn on your microphone and leave it in a room, then go sing without the microphone in another room. This way you will somewhat mimic what an audience hears if it isn’t sitting right in front of you. Although this will also depend on your microphone quality, once you listen to your recording you might find that the microphone will pick up your singing as background noise.
Another good way to test out how powerful your singing voice is is by singing opera in large halls, opera houses, and amphitheaters. Ask a couple of your friends to sit at the opposite ends of the amphitheater as far from you as possible. Sing to them opera and after you are done ask them if they could hear you clearly, odds are if you are a beginner singer you will still have to work on making your voice a lot more powerful.
Opera Singers Are Also Actors
Now you might ask yourself what opera singing has anything to do with acting, you probably wouldn’t be asking this if you have seen at least a couple of opera performances. Oftentimes opera singers have to dress up and even get some fancy make-up in order to perform. Usually, the life of an opera singer is rehearsing for their next performance and this usually means that there will be at least some kind of acting by the majority of opera singers.
Although the acting part isn’t that important as once you are an apprentice at an opera house you will probably learn how to act. You just have to remember that acting at an opera performance is way different than acting for something like a movie.
Learn To Sing Without A Microphone
Most singers hide behind their microphones and most of them can not even sing without a microphone. The problem is that as an opera singer if you make it professionally you will almost never sing with a microphone. My personal recommendation is to learn to sing opera without using the microphone and only use your microphone to record yourself. The simple fact that opera singers do not use a microphone while they are singing stops a lot of people from pursuing a career as an opera singer.
If you find that your voice sounds awful on a microphone, here is my recent article which could shed some light on it Why does my singing sound awful recorded? ( Top 10 Reasons ).
You Can Be A Professional Opera Singer Even If You Are Older
There is no such thing as being too old to become an opera singer, provided that you are not too young or you do not have some age-related health condition. There are a lot of talented opera singers in the world and most of them didn’t pursue their dreams of becoming a professional opera singer. Some of these people will get the courage to give opera singing a try and some even make it without even having studied at any of the prestigious conservatories.
Love Opera Singing
You have to love opera singing in order to become a professional opera singer. The problem is that most people who pursue a career in singing opera fall out of love with it, this is mostly because reality kicks in as singing opera is a lot different than what they have imagined. Opera singing is a team effort and if you are one of those persons who always want to be the star of the show you will find it extremely difficult to join a team-oriented profession as opera singing.
How Much Does An Opera Singer Make?
Usually, the opera season starts in September and ends in May. During this time an opera singer will perform several times per week, usually, these performances pay anything between $300-$1200, this sum can, of course, get higher if you are a lead opera singer. Most beginner singers think that opera singing is all about performing to an audience, the truth is that most of the year opera singers learn and rehearse for their upcoming performances between September and May.
On average, an opera singer will make annually around $40,000-$ 60,000 this will depend also on how successful the opera house is and how popular their performances are. Sometimes one particular opera group can become famous overnight and the opera house will capitalize on it, thus making the opera singers much more money. If you want to be a professional opera singer and you also want to make a lot of money then singing opera isn’t probably for you. The above-mentioned sums of money can be made far easier in almost any other industry, but it is your choice and I am not trying to convince you otherwise, but you still have to give these things some thought.
- If you want to become a professional opera singer then in addition to having a voice for it you will also need to study. You will have to study at a conservatory, get a bachelor’s degree in music, and even a Master of Music degree if you want to become a professional opera singer. Most professional opera singers have at least one of these degrees and very few of them will get hired without any of these degrees.
- Develop a solid vocal technique, including breath control, resonance, diction, and vocal range. Regular practice and vocal exercises are essential to strengthen and expand your vocal abilities.
- Seek opportunities to perform in local productions, choirs, competitions, and recitals. Audition for opera companies, festivals, and apprenticeship programs to gain valuable stage experience and exposure.
How long does it take to become a professional opera singer?
The path to becoming a professional opera singer can vary for each individual. It typically involves years of rigorous training, education, and practical experience, ranging from 7 to 10 years or more, depending on the level of dedication, talent, and opportunities available.
How hard is it to become a professional opera singer?
Becoming a professional opera singer requires exceptional vocal talent, extensive vocal training, language proficiency, acting skills, and dedication. The competitive nature of the industry and the high standards set by opera companies make it a challenging and demanding pursuit.
How much does a professional opera singer make?
The income of a professional opera singer can vary significantly depending on factors such as experience, reputation, engagement type, and the size and prestige of the opera company. Established opera singers can earn substantial incomes, but the range can vary from moderate to high.
Can anybody become an opera singer?
While anyone can develop their singing ability and pursue a career in opera, becoming a successful opera singer requires a unique combination of natural talent, vocal training, dedication, discipline, and a passion for the art form. It requires a commitment to lifelong learning and continuous improvement.